Signs

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When do I need a sign permit?

A sign permit is required when any new sign is proposed, except for those temporary or exempt signs as noted below. To avoid unnecessary preparation or review, please speak with a land use planner at 425-452-4188 before submitting your sign application.

What signs are exempt from needing a sign permit?

The following are Exempt Signs that do not need a sign permit:

  • Flags of government or noncommercial institutions such as schools
  • Corporate flags
  • Sandwich-board signs worn by a person while walking the public ways of the city
  • Seasonal decorations within the appropriate public holiday season
  • Reasonable temporary decorations and signs for the purpose of announcing or promoting a nonprofit-sponsored, school-sponsored, or child daycare-center-sponsored community fair, festival, or event, including announcement of enrollment periods

Do I have to get a permit for an American flag or a corporate flag?

No. Each property owner is allowed to fly government flags. One corporate flag no more than 15 feet above maximum building height is permitted per business premises, and the flag may not exceed 20 square feet in surface area. Additional flags are not allowed.

Can I have a garage sale sign?

These signs are technically not allowed. However, if these signs are installed for an event, they must be removed immediately after the event. Formal complaints will be processed on an individual complaint basis with Code Compliance at 425-452-2047.

What city code regulates the sign permits?

The Sign Code is Bellevue City Code 22B.10.

How long does it take to get a sign permit?

It usually takes about 3-3½ weeks.

What are the limitations for commercial signs?

There are two types of commercial signs:

  • Building-mounted Signs
  • Freestanding Signs

The requirements for each depend upon the zoning of the property. Each zone has specific sign size limitations, setbacks, and height. The following requirements apply to signs within these zoning districts: Downtown, Office Limited Business (OLB), General Commercial (GC), Light Industry (LI), and Institutional (I).

Freestanding Signs

  • Setback Limitations – Except as otherwise provided in this section, the size of any freestanding sign may not exceed the following limits. The building line is defined in BCC 22B.10.020 but is typically the required zoning setback.

Location Maximum Sign Area
Between property line & building line 25 sq. ft.
On building line, or behind it 75 sq. ft.

  • Sign Height – Except as otherwise provided in this section, the height of any freestanding sign shall not exceed the following limits, based on the setback of the sign:

Location Maximum Sign Height
Between property line & building line 5 ft.
On building line, or behind it 15 ft.

For example, a freestanding sign in a CB zoning district could be a 25-square-foot sign located between the property line and the building line at a height of 5 feet.

Building-mounted Signs

Sign Area Limitations – The surface area of any building-mounted, roof, or canopy-mounted signage may not exceed the square footages as follows:

Relevant Surface Area or Façade Area 
Formula to calculate sign area

Below 100 sq. ft.
26 sq. ft.

100 – 199 sq. ft.
26 sq. ft. + 11% of facade area over 100 sq. ft.

200 – 499 sq. ft.
38 sq. ft. + 12% of facade area over 200 sq. ft.

500 – 999 sq. ft.
75 sq. ft. + 11% of facade area over 500 sq. ft.

1,000 – 1,499 sq. ft.
131 sq. ft. + 7.5% of facade area over 1,000 sq. ft.

1,500 – 2,999 sq. ft.
169 sq. ft. + 2.5% of facade area over 1,500 sq. ft.

Over 3,000 sq. ft.
206 sq. ft. + 1.5% of facade area over 3,000 sq. ft. to a maximum of 300 sq. ft.

For example, a building with a 400-square-foot façade (40 feet wide x 10 feet tall) could have a 62-square-foot sign mounted on the building.

For other zones, see Sign Code Sections 22B.10.040, 055, 060, and 090.

When is design review required for a permit? Will this lengthen the time to get a permit?

Design review of a sign permit is required when the property is located in any of the Downtown Land Use Districts or in these other zoning areas: Community Business; Neighborhood Business; Office Limited Business-Open Space; Bel-Red Land Use Districts, except for BR-GC; and Transition Area (to residential). The purpose of design review is to make sure the proposed sign is architecturally compatible with the building and character of the area. The design review will be incorporated in your sign application and will not lengthen the time to get a permit.

Do I need a permit for a temporary sign?

Temporary signs are allowed, but a permit is required before installation.

The aggregate area of temporary signs for one property may not exceed 64 square feet maximum, and the area of any single sign may not exceed 32 square feet maximum.

The following are examples of Temporary Signs:

  • Construction period signage
  • Lease-up/sales period signage
  • Real estate signs
  • Residential land subdivision signs
  • Temporary event signage (Signs, posters, banners, strings of lights, clusters of flags, blinking lights, balloons, and searchlights are permitted for a period of one month to announce the opening of a completely new enterprise.)
  • Political signs (These must be removed within 7 days after an election.)

Please Note: These signs may not be placed in the right of way. They are only permitted on private property.

Visit our sign permit page for additional information.